Welsh Government makes A level, GCSE examination grades U turn

Education Minister Kirsty Williams has announced that A-level and GCSE students will be awarded the grades estimated for them by their teachers.

There have been days of criticism from students, opposition politicians and Welsh Labour backbenchers.

Last week the Scottish Government was forced to make a humiliating turnaround following a huge outcry, that teacher estimates of scores would, after all, be the best and fairest solution. This despite having explained how those teacher assessments had been too generous and were overturning four successive years of declining performances.

In the last twenty-four hours, the Northern Ireland government also announced its acceptance of teacher assessments as the grading model.

In Wales, a total of 42% of A-level grades predicted by teachers had been lowered when results were published last week after they had been processed by an algorithm.

The Welsh government were faced with pressure by what other governments in the UK were doing in relation to grading.

Kirsty Williams and her Labour cabinet colleagues having stressed throughout the “robustness” of the system in Wales found that their position was becoming out of step with the rest of the UK

Explaining the Welsh government’s U-turn Ms Williams said:

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“Given decisions elsewhere, the balance of fairness now lies with awarding centre assessment grades to students, despite the strengths of the system in Wales”

She also promised an independent review of the events “following the cancellation of this year’s exams”.

Sian Gwenllian the Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman commented that the announcement was “seriously overdue” and called for a “full investigation into this debacle”.

She continued:

“The Welsh Government should apologise to students, teachers and schools for what they’ve put them through over the past few weeks,” she said.

Suzy Davies, the education spokeswoman for Welsh Conservatives added:

“It is reassuring that the minister has listened to the Welsh Conservatives and other parties in the Welsh Parliament, but especially pleasing that she heard the voices of young people up and down the country,” she added.

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